Thursday, April 15, 2021

MSU Museum announces new exhibit to celebrate Black History Month

February 25, 2021
The entrance to the new MSU Museum exhibit "Beyond the Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics."
The entrance to the new MSU Museum exhibit "Beyond the Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics." —
Photo by Courtesy Photo | The State News

The MSU Museum has a new virtual exhibit to celebrate Black History Month called, “Beyond the Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics,” which examines the intersection of African diaspora culture and technology through the lens of comic books and graphic novels.

The curator for the exhibit is Julian Chambliss, an English professor and Val Berryman curator of history at the MSU Museum. Chambliss’ work focuses on cultural perceptions that influence our urban experience, according to his personal website.

“This exhibit is an important effort to help contextualize contemporary dialogue about Afrofuturism through comics,” Chambliss said in a press release. “Building on the MSU Museum educational role, the exhibit engages the viewers to consider how comics make ideas intrinsic to Afrofuturism available to the public. My hope is that this exhibit sparks a journey of discovery for the visitor. We could not cover everything in this small exhibit, but I hope people enjoy and want to learn more.” 

The exhibit explains the meaning of Afrofuturism and explores different comics created by Black artists to imagine the world in a way that embraces differences and celebrates freedom. 

The exhibit uses the popular comic series, Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as the framework for the discussion, but delves much deeper into different comics that are based on African traditions and values.

The exhibit is informative and explains how artists use their work to explore the depths of Afrofuturism in contemporary American culture and how to reimagine the role of technology and science as a tool of liberation for African-Americans.

The exhibit showcases 11 different comics and explains how the comics use Afrofuturism to explain contemporary Black culture in a non-white worldview. 

Graphics from each comic are on display, showcasing the artwork used to depict the stories of African culture and Afrofuturism.

Even though the exhibit is virtual, it is laid out the same as a normal art exhibit. The slides take you around the room through the exhibit, showcasing each comic with descriptions as if you were in the room in-person.

In the exhibit, they include links that relate to the art that help provide more context about the art and the motivations behind the artist’s work. 

Chambliss will have two virtual discussions over the next six weeks about the exhibit, where anyone can come and talk or ask questions about the exhibit. They will be from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. March 10 and from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. April 7. You can register for the discussions on the MSU museum website.


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